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About the Nokia N8

Nokia N8

Congratulations, Nokia. The brouhaha surrounding the Nokia N8 is almost as epic as the recent kerfuffle about the iPhone HD (my nomenclature). Fantastic PR Job!

What do you mean that “leak” was not intentional? Oh well, any advertising is good advertising…

So, about the N8. Color me cautiously thrilled. The short of it is that the hardware is spot on (finally), but the verdict is still out on the software (predictably). Or maybe I’m just a sucker for a nice cameraphone :)

I really hope the days of over-promising and under-delivering are over – the N97 was flawed, while the N86 and N900 both left me unsatisfied. That being said, I think Nokia is getting the message – look no further than the well rounded E72 and X6.

First, the N8 is not shipping until Q3 2010. Will it still be lust-worthy at launch next to devices the iPhone HD and EVO 4G?

Second, Symbian^3 is mostly a streamlined version of S60v5. Will it close the gap with iPhone OS and Android in terms of UX?

Third, the camera… Megapixels, schmegapixels! The N86 was rather disappointing, with only marginal real-life benefits over the phenomenal N82. Will the N8 represent Nokia’s next quantum leap in imaging?

Fourth, it’s not just about hardware, software, or even marketshare. It’s about platforms, ecosystems and mindshare. Will the N8 change Nokia’s perception amongst users and developers, especially in the US?

Time will tell. I’m definitely getting a review unit, so stay tuned. Until then, here’s my N8 score sheet:

– Oh that camera :)
– Xenon flash
– Large shutter button
– HD video recording (720p @ 25 fps)
– Penta-band 3G (850/900/1700/1900/2100 MHz)
– OLED capacitive touchscreen
– Slim aluminum body
– HDMI output
– 256 MB RAM
– Multitouch support
– Affordable (€370)

– No lens protection
– Lower display resolution vs. competition (640×360 pixels)
– Slower processor vs. competition (680 MHz)
– Sealed battery
– Running Symbian^3

22 thoughts on “About the Nokia N8 Leave a comment

  1. “Megapixels, schmegapixels!”

    The N8 is supposed to have a substantially larger sensor than used in /any/ previous camera phone. According to GSMArena’s blog it’s about 1/1.9″ in size, which beats many regular digicams (not prosumer or DSLR of course).

    The limiting factor will of course be the tiny lens. If the N8’s camera software allows the use of slower shutter speeds instead of higher ISO to handle low light then they should have a winner and we finally have a worthy replacement for the i-mobile 902.

      • Wouldn’t it be cool if this were to be the first camphone with full manual controls just like a real camera?
        Then you could chose slow shutter and low ISO for night shots…

  2. Hi tnkgrl,

    I would like to disagree on the processor speed point. Do you know what the GPU is in the device and how much work it will do. There is rumour that it is from broadcom and it pushes 32 million polygons. Now, I am by no means an expert, but should these things not be considere before comparing to a 1 Ghz snapdragon that does not have this GPU?

    If I am incorrect assuming the polygons matter, can you explain why?


    • Polygons matter… But the competition is already shipping devices with 1 GHz CPUs + GPUs (Qualcomm Snapdragon), and double the RAM. The N8 will not be available until Q3 – you do the math!

  3. @tnkgrl: you compare phones that are based on a kernel (linux) that have been designed originally for servers and then optimized for desktops. Even Linux based desktop are using more than 512Mo for years…
    Symbian is designed for phones by default. Comparing data about systems that are not originally designed for the same usage is not correct. I think Android phones just needs more RAM to do the same things than Symbian phone do (multitasking, etc.)

    • The Android, iPhone and WebOS kernels (all Unix based) are each heavily customized and optimized for mobile use – I’d know, I’m a developer…

      Let’s compare apples to apples. Symbian on the Samsung i8910 vs. Android on the Motorola Droid vs. iPhone OS on the iPhone 3GS vs. WebOS on the Palm Pre.

      These are all devices I’ve used, and all feature a Cortex A8 processor with 3D acceleration running at 600 MHz.

      The only major difference is the OS and the screen resolution.

      Perceived speed, from fastest to slowest
      1) iPhone 3GS (480×320 pixels)
      2) Droid (854×480 pixels)
      3) Pre (480×320 pixels)
      4) i8910 (640×360 pixels)

      The iPhone 3GS and Droid are almost as fast, with the Pre and i8910 being noticeably slower. Care to explain why Symbian fares so poorly?

      I have a Nexus One (1 GHz Snapdragon), and an iPad (1 GHz A4). Both are incredibly fast – often snappier than a modern PC!

      No matter how much Symbian^3 is optimized vs. S60v5, the N8 at 680 MHz is not going to feel as fast as the iPhone HD/EVO 4G at 1GHz. And that’s my point.

      • Are you sure all these phones use the same hardware platform? I mean, what about the memory performances? What about the i/o drivers and graphic drivers? People often rants about Samsung and its inability to produce good software… I still think it is hazardous to techincally compare these phones and decide which OS is the fatest based on the user experience. It’s possible to decide which is the most “user friendly”, but the fatest…

      • Yep, same exact chipset…

        In terms of perceived speed, the iPhone 3GS and the Droid blow the pants off the Pre and i8910 with almost identical CPUs, GPUs and memory specs (256 MB RAM).

        So it’s down to OS performance then, and clearly those Unix kernels are doing just fine in that area :)

        Look, I’m into Symbian, and the i8910 is definitely the fastest Symbian device ever made (when using much better tweaked firmware than Samsung’s default).

        But the reality is that it’s a very different mobile world today than it was when the N95 was king of the hill!

      • As far as I know, the S60v5 does not use the GPU for its UI. Symbian^3 does, which puts it much more on an even level with the other phones.
        I have an N900, which is absolutely great imo, and it multitasks very impressively.
        But it does not handle priorities nearly as well as S60 (on the N82), where at least the phone and music playback functions are never really compromised by other programs running. So don’t underestimate Symbian. With the kinks ironed out and graphics acceleration it could feel completely different.

      • Also, do you know if Symbian^1 was shipped with the BSP? I doubt that Nokia provides BSP & drivers for the hardware chosen by Samsung. You said the i8910 needs a tweaked firmware which seems to be an habit with Samsung’s products. That can make a great difference.

        Now with the opening of Symbian, folks will be able to check inside the OS and compare architectural choices based on concrete data.

  4. just when I wanted to change nokia for android, they come with this, it was instant love. I would buy it right now, even on beta

  5. Nice review on the Nokia N8. Thanks because it’s a mobile phone I am comparing now with its predecessor but just deciding over features. Camera quality features anyway which is what I am looking for. Thanks.

  6. Wow, me and Nokia N8, love at first sight. I can’t wait for the release (24 august?). I’m addicted to Nokia and i love the Symbian OS, i’m convinced that ^3 will work great on the N8. Wonderful camera, great pics and HD-video with HDMI-out, you just gotta love it. Lifetime long free use of Ovi Maps-navigation with free incar-holder and charger, lovely blue color and traditional Nokia hardware top-quality. One minor issue; the waiting for release is so hard ;-). Still very happy with my N95 but can’t resist the temptation of Nokia’s N8

    • Because as developer, I’ve looked at Symbian ^3, Android 2.2 FroYo, and iPhone OS 4.0.

      Sure Symbian ^3 is a huge improvement over S60v5 (and Qt is pretty cool), but it’s not in the same league as Android or iPhone OS in terms of user experience…

      I think Maemo/MeeGo would have been a better choice!

    • I generally use OLED and AMOLED interchangeably (most OLED displays are AMOLED).

      As for the N8 having 3D graphics acceleration, that’s great, but the competition also has it. The fact remains that the N8 (that’s not even out yet) has a slower CPU than the competition (which is already on the market).

  7. I think it is interesting that Nokia chose the ARM 11/680Mhz processor. The UI on Symbian^3 runs off the GPU, which is apparently the fastest available today. I’m sure the overall performance allowed them to go with ARM11 without sacrificing overall performance vis a vis competition. Clearly, its price point will put plenty of pressure on competitors’ flagships. I would’ve added a couple additonal pts to the plus column:
    – 28mm WIDE ANGLE Carl Zeiss lens system
    – DOLBY sound
    – robust video editing on-board with native app
    – RAM paging for even better multi-tasking
    – 16 GB on board, expandable
    – Bluetooth 3.0
    – Free OVI Maps with turn by turn navigation…a big plus as network operators start ending unlimited data plans…(e.g.AT&T)
    – Fastest GPU
    – Very competitive pricing

  8. Symbian is so 1990s. Good review tnkgrl!

    I was a Nokia fanboy for 10+ years until I saw the light in Android, specifically the HTC Desire.

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